"Jake, bro, back away," I heard Seth Clearwater urge. "You're losing it."

Jacob seemed frozen as he was, his horrified eyes wide and staring.

"You'll hurt her," Seth whispered. "Let her go."

"Now!" Edward snarled.

Jacob's hands dropped to his sides, and the sudden gush of blood through my waiting veins was almost painful. Before I could register more than that, cold hands replaced the hot ones, and the air was suddenly whooshing past me.

I blinked, and I was on my feet a half dozen feet away from where I'd been standing. Edward was tensed in front of me. There were two enormous wolves braced between him and Jacob, but they did not seem aggressive to me. More like they were trying to prevent the fight.

And Seth - gangly, fifteen-year-old Seth - had his long arms around Jacob's shaking body, and he was tugging him away. If Jacob phased with Seth so close...

"C'mon, Jake. Let's go."

"I'll kill you," Jacob said, his voice so choked with rage that it was low as a whisper. His eyes, focused on Edward, burned with fury. "I'll kill you myself! I'll do it now!" He shuddered convulsively.

The biggest wolf, the black one, growled sharply.

"Seth, get out of the way," Edward hissed.

Seth tugged on Jacob again. Jacob was so bewildered with rage that Seth was able to yank him a few feet farther back. "Don't do it, Jake. Walk away. C'mon."

Sam - the bigger wolf, the black one - joined Seth then. He put his massive head against Jacob's chest and shoved.

The three of them - Seth towing, Jake trembling, Sam pushing - disappeared swiftly into the darkness.

The other wolf stared after them. I wasn't sure, in the weak light, about the color of his fur - chocolate brown, maybe? Was it Quil, then?

Tm sorry," I whispered to the wolf.

"It'sall right now,Bella," Edward murmured.

The wolf looked at Edward. His gaze was not friendly. Edward gave him one cold nod.The wolf huffed and then turned to follow the others, vanishing as they had.

"All right," Edward said to himself, and then he looked at me. "Let's get back."

"But Jake - "

"Sam has him in hand. He's gone."

"Edward, I'm so sorry. Iwas stupid - "

"You did nothing wrong - "

"I have such a big mouth! Why would I... I shouldn't have let him get to me like that. What was I thinking?"

"Don't worry." He touched my face. "We need to get back to the reception before someone notices our absence."

I shook my head, trying to reorient myself. Before someone noticed? Had anyone missed that?

Then, as I thought about it, I realized the confrontation that had seemed so catastrophic to me had, in reality, been very quiet and short here in the shadows.

"Give me two seconds," I pleaded.

My insides were chaotic with panic and grief, but that didn't matter - only the outside mattered right now. Putting on a good show was something I knew I had to master.

"My dress?"

"You look fine. Not a hair out of place."

I took two deep breaths. "Okay. Let's go."

He put his arms around me and led me back to the light. When we passed under the twinkle lights, he spun me gently onto the dance floor. We melted in with the other dancers as if our dance had never been interrupted.

I glanced around at the guests, butno one seemed shocked or frightened. Only the very palest faces there showed any signs of stress, and they hid it well. Jasper and Emmett were on the edge of the floor, close together,

and I guessed that they had been nearby during the confrontation.

"Are you - "

Tm fine," I promised. "I can't believe I did that. What's wrong with me?"

"Nothing is wrong with you"

I'd been so glad to see Jacob here. I knew the sacrifice it had taken him. And then I'd ruined it, turned his gift into a disaster. I should be quarantined.

But my idiocy would not ruin anything else tonight. I would put this away, shove it in a drawer and lock it up to deal with later. There would be plenty of time to flagellate myself for this, and nothing I could do now would help.

"It's over," I said. "Let's not think of it again tonight."

I expected a quick agreement from Edward, but he was silent.


He closed his eyes and touched his forehead to mine. "Jacob is right," he whispered. "What am I thinking?"

"He is not." I tried to keep my face smooth for the watching crowd of friends. "Jacob is way too prejudiced to see anything clearly."

He mumbled something low that sounded almost like "should let him kill me for even thinking ..."

"Stop it," I said fiercely. I grabbed his face in my hands and waited until he opened his eyes. "You and me. That's the only thing that matters. The only thing you're allowed to think about now. Do you hear me?"

"Yes," he sighed.

"Forget Jacob came." I could do that. I would 60 that. "For me. Promise that you'll let this go."

He stared into my eyes for a moment before answering. "I promise."

"Thank you. Edward, I'm not afraid."

"I am," he whispered.

"Don't be." I took deep breath and smiled. "By the way, I love you."

He smiled just a little in return. "That's why we're here."

"You're monopolizing the bride," Emmett said, coming up behind Edward's shoulder. "Let me dance with my little sister. This could be my last chance to make her blush." He laughed loudly, as unaffected as he usually was by any serious atmosphere.